We are so flippin’ busy — writing resumes and coaching our clients — that we don’t look up long enough from our day-to-day to learn and follow the best practices for maintaining content health and growing our websites.
This is why so many non-experts have catapulted themselves to the top of the career industry “heap” and continue to draw traffic AWAY from those of us who are credentialed and established with an incredible wealth of knowledge to share.
For example, I never heard of BrazenCareerist (now called Brazen) until just under 2 years ago — and now that they have thousands of posts published on Google about job search, interviewing, resumes, and so on. They have shifted their business to providing chat software to recruiters, HR staff, and universities. Unfortunate for many of us, the thousands of career-related blog posts are still indexed in Google and drawing traffic, despite the fact that they are aging and drawing an audience that likely has little interest in their new service.
And this site is just the tip of the iceberg of sites that have surfaced seemingly overnight and have siphoned traffic away from us.
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This is absolutely sickening.
So, let’s review 6 in-depth ways you can keep your career blog relevant and important to your readers and to search giants like Google.
Avoid the common mistakes and follow these recommended best practices and goals to ensure your online business has a long life:
1. Being Unnecessarily Repetitive.
We constantly tell our clients, “it’s not the quantity of jobs you apply for, but the quality of those you apply for.”
But, have you noticed we all too often don’t heed our own advice?
We write and write, beating the same topic “to death” in an attempt to get more posts indexed in Google and hopefully get more leads and sales.
Exactly how much is there to be said about certain topics, such as effectively writing a cover letter or building a brand?
When it comes to our websites, it’s not about the QUANTITY of posts we write, but the QUALITY of the blog posts we write.
Adding more and more blog posts that cover the same career topic only encourages us to add more “fluff” and generic content that often doesn’t perform well in search engines.
So, what should you do?
YOUR GOAL: Start by making the blog posts you already have … better! That’s right. Take those blog posts you wrote years ago and breathe new life into them.
Not sure how to add new life to your blog posts?
These tips should help:
- Start by telling stories about specific clients in some of your blog posts. Doing this will also help reaffirm your advice.
- List questions throughout your content that you think are in the minds of your readers. For example, right now you are probably thinking: “Gee Teena, what does that look like exactly?” I recommend that you hop on over to this blog post I wrote that reviews ExecuNet. You’ll see that I introduced questions in certain places of the content. Adding questions also helps flesh out a topic much easier, I think.
- Use H1, H2, and H3 tags where appropriate. I don’t know about you, but I went years not knowing the proper etiquette for handling header tags. I have since learned that ideally each of your blog posts should use only ONE H1 tag. You can use as many H2 and H3 tags you wish, though don’t get carried away.
2. Not Paying Attention to The “Text” Side of Your Blog Posts.
There are times when excess “garbage” code gets inserted into our blog posts. We don’t mean to do it; but hey, technology can be a fickle bitch at times.
Carrying over unnecessary CSS or HTML sometimes happens to those of us who copy our blog post content from the comforts of Word and paste it into the visual side of our WordPress sites. Our first thought is, “Hey, look at that. All the formatting carried over. Score! I just saved some added content design work.”
Though, there are times when extra ghost formatting tags along for the ride without our knowledge unless we take a peek @ the text side of our articles. So, the better practice is to paste your articles into the “text” side of your blog and add formatting (e.g. bold, hyperlinks) later. We also have the option of using Word’s “Web Page” file type, which seems to alleviate some unwanted formatting when copying and pasting from Word to our WordPress blogs, but few of us use this feature in Word. Honestly, I have never used, so if you do and find it’s helpful, let me know.
You could also write your articles within Notepad and do much the same thing: copying your content from Notepad and paste into the text side of your blog software.
Regardless of what method you use to carry your content to your WordPress blog, before you publish any new post, click on the “text” side of your blog posts (top right corner) and examine the code.
Not sure what you’re looking for?
Basically, start looking for open and close code that doesn’t have any content in between; e.g. <strong></strong> (see in the below screenshot).
Then, start looking for more in-depth issues. For example, notice in the below screenshot you see <p align=”left”> and then </p>. This is garbage code because I know my content automatically defaults to LEFT alignment, so having this added code is redundant and therefore should be deleted.
Will “clean” code in your blog rock your search engine results positions (SERPs)?
No, probably not.
But, giving that added bit of attention to the “overall content health” of your website does prove you care about your site’s quality and just may boost your position in search engines. If anything, this can increase the value of your website … so there is that!
YOUR GOAL: Get familiar with the basics of HTML and CSS code and actively check the code side of your blog posts for unnecessary gobbledygook. If you are a paying member of LinkedIn, you have free access to LinkedIn training (aka Lynda). That’s a great place to start for learning more about website development and the basics of HTML and CSS.
3. Not Using Aggressive Internal & External Linking Practices.
Do you remember when “get a sitemap” was being shoved down our throats?
Sure, a sitemap plays an important role in helping search engines like Google and Bing find site posts and pages. [Note: Be sure your sitemap is listed @ both Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools.
But, many of us think that just providing search engines with our sitemaps is all that’s needed. An aggressive internal and external linking campaign is just as important to ensuring search engines continuously find and index our new and old blog posts (and pages too!).
Why put internal and external links within our blog posts?
There are a few good reasons for doing this, and I’ll cover what might be the top two:
First, a strong internal linking campaign enables your visitors to click to additional posts on your site and has been noted to boost page authority as well. When you view your Google Analytics, do you pay any attention to your “average pages per session” or your bounce rate? Because increasing the clicks performed on your website helps improves both those numbers, which Google uses in part to determine your rankings.
Simply put: you want your site visitors to “do more clicking” on your site.
A few of the best ways to increase engagement on your website is to introduce:
Second, a strong external linking campaign shows that you are a true supporter and patriarch of the internet. Think about it. The internet is made up of trillions of links. By creating a “click friendly” website, you’re showing Google that your website isn’t an island. Your site should really be more like a concierge service: “Hey, we hope you want to stay here, but if you don’t, here are a few additional places we think can help you further.”
I also want you to start with this linking practice in mind too: try to predominantly link to other “like” article.
What does this mean exactly?
This mean that if your blog post is on resume writing, avoid linking heavily to blog posts about interviewing, personal branding, and other off-topic blog posts. Rather, link to posts that provide resume examples, how to tips for writing a better resume intro, predictions for resumes in 2017/2018, and so on.
There are a few thoughts on why to do this.
For example, this helps keep the URLs and title text of those in line with the overall theme of your blog post. Linking to other “like” articles also stays in the vein of what your visitor is seeking help with.
4. Not Tracking On-Page Conversions.
This one is a biggie!
If I asked you, what’s the conversion rate on your quote form?
Would you have an answer for me?
“Big data” is a very overused term these days, but Data Analysts are laughing all the way to the bank. According to Forbes.com, the medium advertised salary for professionals with big data expertise in 2015 was $124,000 a year.
And, companies are (literally!) scrambling to find the right talent because DATA analysis and management will be huge in the coming years.
What you don’t know about your data could be single-handedly holding back your resume and career coaching business!
You MUST KNOW how many leads you’re getting — and where they are coming from.
You MUST KNOW which of your leads are converting — and WHY they are!
You MUST KNOW what your business is “leaving on the table.”
You MUST KNOW the data that will help you make educated decisions about your business to further drive it towards attracting more traffic, more leads, and yes, more clients.
There shouldn’t be any more statements like:
“I don’t think that’s converting.”
“I honestly don’t know why…”
“That doesn’t seem to be working.”
We are not all the same.
Did you know I could take the EXACT same quote form and put it on 5 websites of resume writers and get 5 different conversion rates.
Why is that?
Because we fail to factor the ONE BIG VARIABLE: we all attract different types of traffic (e.g. education and career levels, plus some have different intents to buy). This doesn’t mean we should all suffer with whatever on-page conversion rate we get. On the contrary. We should never settle. But, what we should do is “test our conversions” until we make the right amount of micro changes to our posts, pages, forms, lead magnets, and so on, to get the best conversions.
Doubling your business could be nothing more than a few conversion points away.
YOUR GOAL: Get intimate with your website (and business) data.
I can’t say this stern enough!
5. Writing “Thin” Articles.
Never heard of “thin” content before?
This term is somewhat new (or maybe more accurately has just become more popular) and has been used more in recent years to describe content that doesn’t offer much value. Some also indicate that thin content is rather small, such as 200-300 words, but I prefer to look at thin content as content that doesn’t offer much new value for readers and is rather generic.
Stephen Kenwright @ SearchEngineWatch.com points out that low word count blog post (e.g. 500 words) by an expert can offer more value than a 2,000-word article published on EzineArticles. As you know, EzineArticles has been equated to a “content farm,” which is a site with a large amount of low-quality articles that were created with the sole purpose of manipulating pre-Panda search engine rankings.
Custard.co.uk provides this great analogy to help: “A great way to think of content is as search engine food. The more unique content your website offers search engines, the more satisfied they are and the higher you will likely rank for the keywords your on-page content mentions.”
So, how do you avoid writing thin articles?
Start by thinking of yourself as a journalist, not as a blogger. We all have a few bloggers that we follow who specialize in specific areas of business; e.g. marketing, affiliate management, and so on. You may have noticed that these industry giants continuously quote other experts and link to only the most reputable sources.
This is what you should be doing as well.
YOUR GOAL: Always look for more and more ways to boost the relevance and add “meat” to your blog posts, which could include:
- Provide before and after content examples
- Tell client stories that further solidify the point you’re trying to make
- Add pictures and graphics to your posts (and captions too!) to add visual appeal
- Make sure you are thoroughly covering your topic
- Research other articles and answer the important questions relevant to your topic
6. “Create It & Forget It.”
Resumes are “live” documents. Right?
We tell this to clients all the time. “Your resume should always be changing and evolving to match your skill level, meet new ATS requirements, etc. etc.”
Within that same vein of advice, your website should NEVER be a “create it and forget it” vehicle that promotes your business.
We think that once our websites are finished (e.g. the right pictures, content, and design) that we can sigh relief and move on to the next phase of our businesses. But, this is where you may be going wrong. The website you decide on, the content you publish, and the graphics you use are really more like “drafts” instead of “finals.”
How your visitors interact with your website after it goes live is when the real work begins.
When your site goes live, that’s when you watch and make continued micro changes. For example,
For example, you’re looking for:
- WHAT IS and IS NOT being clicked on?
- Are people filling out the quote form, or failing to finish?
- Are visitors clicking on odd things (e.g. graphic) or showing confusion once on site pages?
At this point, you aren’t just collecting and making decisions based on data, but you’re also creating hypotheses that you can use as a starting point.
- If I change that picture could I increase conversion rates?
- Would a button work better there instead of a text link?
- Could I increase conversions if I change the color of X?
You’re probably wondering how you can get answers to some of the above questions.
No doubt, having the right rules certainly helps things along. I use a video tracking software that’s embedded on my sites as well as those of clients to help me determine the best changes needed to produce the best conversions. I’ll cover video monitoring of your website in a future blog post.
More about conversions…
Here’s a client case study from a resume writing and career coaching client that I’m currently working with:
My client had a quote form that was converting just under 7% (of course, the conversion rate varied slightly depending upon the day of the week, alignment of holidays, and so on). This is very low — though it’s worth mentioning that conversion rates do vary widely with online businesses, and vary much more from one industry to the next.
So, let’s put the 7% into perspective.
This rate means that less than 1 out of every 10 visitors to her quote form ACTUALLY filled out the form.
Imagine for a moment you are a retail store. For every 100 visitors to your store, less than 10 buys something from you.
How long would your store stay afloat with those numbers?
So, this is what we did:
By simply adjusting what her form contained (based on the informed data we collected), we nearly DOUBLED her conversions to 13.4%.
Just like that!
If we hadn’t tracked her conversions, we would have never known that prospective customers were having problems interacting with her old quote form. Our client didn’t know. Heck, we didn’t know in the beginning either. We made some assumptions, but we ultimately “let the data” tell us what to do next.
YOUR GOAL: Don’t make changes willy-nilly. Base your changes on the data you collect and subsequently analyze.
Not sure where to start?
Start in your Google Analytics account. Identify your most trafficked pages and where visitors on your website end up leaving. In the beginning, identify your current conversions, create one or two hypothesis and make micro changes based on your initial observations, and then sit back to determine if those new changes helped or hurt your conversions. Then, lather, rinse and repeat.